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After last week, I was worried about how Bear would act in future music classes.

This morning, as I was getting ready, she asked me, Where we goin’?

When I told her that today was music class day, she responded with an enthusiastic YAAAAAY!

At that point, I bent down and said, But, do you remember what happened last time?

Before I could say anything else, she interrupted me, stumbling over her words, I won’t lick the mat.  I won’t lick the mat.

Good, I told her.  What happens if you do lick the mat?

I won’t lick the mat, she said.

But if you do, what happens?

I don’t want to go home.

I smiled.  Apparently my intervention last week had made a bigger impression than I realized.

We arrived at class a little earlier, and Bear happily ran around the mat while her teacher pulled out toys to occupy her until the other children arrived.  Aside from knocking over a few kids with her enthusiasm, and head-butting the teacher, she was pretty well-behaved.  Of course, she seemed like a hooligan compared to all of the other quiet children sitting on their mothers’ laps, but only once – at the end of class – did she lay on her stomach and with the tip of her tongue, ever-so-slightly touch the mat.  She immediately looked at me, and I shook my head at her and looked at her sternly.  She immediately sat upright and joined the rest of the kids.  I decided that this response was good enough.

After class, we talked about that one moment, and Bear sighed and said, OK, Mommy.  She seemed weary of the topic.

Unfortunately, the last class of the summer is next week, and my ultrasound and doctor’s appointment had to be rescheduled for the same time so my doctor can assist in a surgery.  I am both bummed and relieved.  Hopefully by the time the fall class starts, Bear will have gotten all of this licking out of her system and we can go back to enjoying music class again.

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“Writing is effortless when we are alive to the world,” according to Julie Jordan Scott.  This is partly why I write.  Not necessarily because it feels effortless, but because it causes me to take pause and become alive to the world.

My daughter is fascinated by the outside world.  She desires nothing more than to frolic in the grass, paint the driveway with long strokes of water, or run wildly down the street away from the safe arms of her mother.  Lately, when I bring her home in the evenings after work, her lips immediately form the loose word, “owside.”    During our days home together, it is the first word she speaks after gulping her morning milk or being roused from afternoon nap.  I can hardly blame her.  I too feel most alive outside, particularly on an early fall day such as this one.

This morning, we met two new friends at a nearby park.  My daughter squealed with unbridled joy when she saw the playground.  She ran to a rocking horse; her new shoes hitting the rough ground with the unpracticed steps of a sixteen month-old.  She slapped the cool metal with her palms and listened to the delicious sound.  “Up!” she ordered.  I swiped at the remnants of last night’s rain on the horse’s saddle with the sleeve of my jacket.  “Up!” she demanded of me again, and I complied.  Once astride the horse, she threw her body forward and backward in quick jerks, and the horse followed.  She already knew what to do.

I am always amazed when my daughter shows me that she exists outside of me and my time with her.  If it weren’t for moments like these, I would have convinced myself that her experience with the world pauses while I am away.

She enjoyed similar, exuberant encounters with the swings, the slide, and a merry-go-round.  Later, at music class, she lifted her legs high as I lifted her into the air, enabling her to “jump” while the other children and their mothers sang their hellos to her.  I watched as she flirted with the teacher; coquettishly smiling and then hiding her eyes.  She would run to a cement pillar in the room, slapping her arms around it in a bear hug and watching me with happy eyes.  Then, she would gleefully yell, “Mommy” and dart back to me, faithfully throwing her entire body into my arms certain that I would catch her.  She repeated this throughout the entire “quiet time” that the teacher insisted upon.

I didn’t care that my daughter refused to be quiet.  I love hearing my daughter shout my name with such admiration.  I love watching her run back to me, and I love holding her close for a few moments when she wants me near.

Now, she lies in her crib speaking unintelligible words to herself or to her “babies.”  Which, I am unsure.  Our nervous dog paces back and forth across the wood floor of my bedroom across the hall, clicking loudly, and occasionally, I hear my daughter shout, “Doggy!”  She may not nap today.

My soul still feels peaceful, however, until I receive a call from work reminding me of something that was left unfinished.  I never seem to have enough time at work or at home and momentarily, I allow myself to feel burdened by a place that I did not plan to revisit until Monday.  My daughter’s muffled jabbering has grown quieter and more intermittent.  Perhaps, she will sleep after all.  I lean my head back, appreciate the breeze from the open window blowing across my bare feet and exhale sharply in an attempt to push that other world away from here back into its separate place.  “Mommy!” I hear cried feverishly from across the hall, and I am thankful that I am able to live in both worlds rather than only the other one.